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Antibiotics and C-Section Ups Risk of Childhood Obesity

Update Date: Nov 19, 2014 01:57 PM EST

Use of antibiotics during second and third trimesters ups the risk of childhood obesity, new research has found.

According to Business Standard, Columbia University researchers arrived at the conclusions based on seven-year observation of 436 women. Of these women, 16 percent had taken antibiotics during the second and third trimesters. Compared to other mothers, children whose mothers took antibiotics had an 84 percent higher risk of obesity.

"Our findings on prenatal antibiotics and risk for offspring obesity are novel, and thus warrant replication in other prospective cohort studies. If these findings hold up, they suggest new mechanisms through which childhood growth trajectories are influenced at the earliest stages of development. Our findings should not discourage antibiotic use when they are medically needed, but it is important to recognize that antibiotics are currently overprescribed," said researcher Noel Mueller in a news release.

The same study also established a 46 percent elevated risk of childhood obesity in children delivered through caesarean deliveries.

"Our findings are consistent with a series of papers that looked at data on Caesarean section. While earlier studies suggested that childhood outcomes differ by whether the Caesarean section was elective or non-elective, we did not observe such evidence. Thus, our findings provide new evidence in support of the hypothesis that Caesarean section independently contributes to the risk of childhood obesity," said Andrew Rundle another researcher at university.

Researchers explain the findings through imbalances in the microbiome of mother and child caused by both antibiotics and c-section deliveries.

"Further research is needed on how mode of delivery, antibiotic use during pregnancy and other factors influence the establishment of the ecosystem of bacteria that inhabit each of us. This research will help us understand how to create an early platform to support the healthy growth and development of children," Dr Rundle said.

The findings of the study have been published in the International Journal of Obesity. 

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